Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Standing out by blending in

Usually a Musician in the Middle of Nowhere works hard at standing out from the crowd--honing his craft to be the best musician he can be, staying in the public eye and ear, being innovative and keeping the music fresh.

Sometimes blending in can be a great way to stand out. Working with local business owners, being a part of the local arts scene, being available to help other artists--these are all good ways to be a stand out in your community.

Here's an artist who has given new meaning to "blending in" and has thereby developed a stand out style:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Challenge

Over the years I've recorded many Christmas carols so I challenged my Facebook fans to come up with a traditional carol I hadn't recorded. You can see the winner on my Youtube page.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

LORD'S PRAYER, free sheet music

Here's a new setting I wrote of this familiar prayer. It's simple to learn and simple to sing - 5 notes in the melody line and 4 chords in the guitar line.

Friday, December 4, 2009


Of all the qualities needed to make it as a Musician in the Middle of Nowhere (or anywhere for that matter), humor ranks pretty high.

Humor gets you through the days when half of your students drop lessons.

Humor gets you through the times when no one returns your calls, emails, or even posts on your Facebook page.

Humor helps you weather those nights playing in bars when no one listens to a note you play. Here’s a true story—I once played my arrangement of “Misty”; as the last note was still ringing, a woman came up to me and asked if I would play “Misty”. I told her “Yes” and proceeded to play it again. I get a good laugh out of telling that one every time.

Humorous “road stories” serve as a universal bond between musicians; every real musician has stories about gigs that make Stephen King’s novels seem tame.
Humor puts into perspective the broken strings, lost amp cords, and ripped off songs; better than broken bones, lost love, or ripped off…well, forget that last. A ripped off song ain’t funny, and I speak from experience.

Jean Shepherd (author of “A Christmas Story”) once said that there is nothing funnier than obsession. And a career musician is quite often obsessive about music: writing it, recording it, performing it, and selling it. And the funniest part is that they are also obsessive about making a living from it. As in: “this is living???” But without the obsession, a musician might just as well go get that “real job” that everyone talks about.

Understand, I don’t mind being the brunt of a joke, but I do not want to be the punch line. Humor helps to keep that all manageable…thank goodness.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


The Middle of Nowhere: where is that exactly? When I say Middle of Nowhere, it brings to mind Home; it brings to mind a place where I can be creative and uninterrupted most of the time.

In real estate, the three most important factors are location, location and location. Not so for musicians and other artists. Being in the Middle of Nowhere is more than just a location: it’s a frame of mind. Because you don’t live close to anything, you must begin to think of yourself as being equidistant; then it’s a choice between thinking of that distance as being “half near”, or “half far”.

Even in the middle of nowhere, there are always talented people worth knowing. This is an opportunity to hone your networking skills. Get to know the musicians, studios, repair people, teachers, Arts Council staff and media people within a 50 mile (or so) radius. This gives you a list of resources, and you can become a resource for referrals.

In a perfect universe, there should be no trade secrets among musicians. Make it happen: share with the other musicians in your area. Share names, share venues, share phone numbers and email addresses. They say what goes around comes around; help other musicians and they may be able to help you later. And even if they don’t, you are no worse off than before, and at least you have the satisfaction of knowing that you helped someone.

Most often, musicians in the Middle of Nowhere have chosen to live there. Whether or not you chose to live where you do, don’t rant about what it lacks. Every place has advantages and disadvantages; look for the unique features of your situation and build on them. John Sebastian wrote in 1967, “And the more I see, the more I see there is to see.” Good advice, even if Sebastian did grow up in the middle of New York City.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Hi, I'm Tom Rasely, Musician in the Middle of Nowhere. I'm a professional guitarist, composer, and church musician pursuing my music in upstate New York.

Living in a county whose bovine population exceeds it's people count has its share of challenges for someone trying to survive as a musician. In this blog and on my Facebook page, we'll explore the pleasures and pitfalls of living far from the madding crowd!

I welcome your comments and would love to hear your stories-- whether you live somewhere or nowhere, play music or not, we're all on this journey together.